It’s been said that the workplace bully must have been quite the tyrant during their young school years, but it’s entirely possible that many workplace bullies were victimized by their peers.
And they couldn’t fight back – not because they were smaller than their tormentors, but because they had no fight inside them. And this includes psychological.
They just didn’t have it in them to wield some power, and instead gave it up to the bullies.
It didn’t help if these victims had critical parents who only contributed to making them feel small and helpless.
The Workplace: Prime Opportunity for Victim of Childhood Bullying to Turn the Tables!
“Someone who was bullied as a child got that way because of some kind of weakness (or perceived weakness),” says Dr. John Huber, a clinical forensic psychologist and chairman for Mainstream Mental Health, a nonprofit organization that brings positive change to the lives of those with mental illness.
“The child who has been bullied doesn’t have any other type of leadership skills or training — is going to go with what they know.
“If they’ve been bullied and been forced to do things they didn’t want to do, that can transition into a workplace situation where they force their employees to do similar things (such as manipulating them into doing tasks faster for example).
“The reason why is because this is what a grownup child of bullying knows and this transformation can occur quite easily.”
Dynamics of Workplace Bullying
vs. School Bullying
A school bully doesn’t have to worry about getting fired from a job if he or she harasses classmates.
In fact, school bullies know they can often get away with stuffing their victims in lockers, throwing food at them, tripping them, etc.
The victim, stripped of power, eventually lands an office job as an adult, perhaps after completing four years of college. And the bullydom is brewing inside.
This person doesn’t necessarily set out to be a bully in the workplace. But the opportunity might just land on his or her shoulders like a butterfly: The former victim of childhood bullying is now promoted to supervisor!
That supervisor, manager or foreman would never, outside the job setting, harass a subordinate, but inside the workplace, they become a whole new animal.
They know they’d lose a physical fight with any of their targets, but that’s okay, because they know that their targets will put up with the bullying to keep their job.
Occasionally, though, a subordinate will bite back. The bully takes this chance, because he or she knows that the majority will be submissive out of fear of getting fired.
Think of the “power going to his head” phenomenon as a do-over of a tormented childhood.
Problem is, the do-over never really occurs, because the workplace victims are not the actual school bullies.
There’s no true feeling of revenge, so the workplace tyrant is never satisfied and continues harassing select employees.
This gives the bully, once a helpless victim earlier in life, a surge of power that requires daily fixes to maintain.
Ironically, school bullying is far more tolerated than that at the workplace.
Kids are often told to “just ignore” the harassment, while adults are encouraged to bring lawsuits against the company. Go figure.